What is Math Anxiety?

Posted by Tiara Swinson on January 31, 2018

Use these tips to help your child with their math anxietyMany students are uncomfortable or disinterested in mathematics. For some students, math can be monotonous, boring, or confusing. But for some students the thought of doing a math problem causes severe negative emotions that can lead to anxiety or depression. These reactions can get in the way of the student doing any type of math problem or even other school problems. When the discomfort about math turns to fear and the fear hinders school performance, this is what is known as “math anxiety.”

Math anxiety can affect students as early as grade 1 which has a negative impact on the child’s ability to problem solve and analyze a situation. If left unchecked, math anxiety can set students back half a year in comparison to their classmates. Math anxiety is centered on a fear of failure, but there are many different causes and triggers for the anxiety:

Causes of Math Anxiety

  •         Time Limits/Tests: the importance of deadlines and timed tests can put a lot of pressure on a child. They might be so worried about the passage of time and answering as many questions as possible that they forget concepts they know and have practiced at home. Because the tests results have direct influence on grades, their fear of failure is confirmed.
  •         Public embarrassment: If a student has been embarrassed or scolded because of a mathematic error in the past they might associate that negative outcome with math. If it happened many times, they might not be able to recall a positive outcome of math and will only look at math with fear because of their “public” failure.
  •         Outside Influence: Children pick up on everything. If they see that their teacher or parent has a negative attitude about math they will be convinced that math is not something to look forward too and will start to dread doing math.

Symptoms of Math Anxiety

  •         Unusual hesitation when confronted with a math problem – either as a school problem or “real world” problem
  •         The student has become so afraid or anxious that they are not willing to try
  •         The student says or feels that he or she is the only one not able to solve a problem – even if it is difficult problem
  •         The student feels like he or she is incapable of improving in math, that they are “naturally” bad at it, and gives up trying
  •         The student is not confident in themselves to try the problem on their own before asking their parent or teacher for the answer
  •         The student expresses or experiences panic during a math exam or classroom participation

If any of this sounds familiar or like something your child might be struggling with, you have probably wondered how to help your child. Math anxiety can be very serious and dangerous, and if left unchecked it can even lead to more serious school anxieties and depressions. However, there are some great tips to help your child.

Solutions for Math Anxiety

  •         Positive Reinforcement. Make sure your student feels like they can excel in math. Give your child praise for all the correct answers and emphasize the questions he or she got right. Gently remind them the correct way to answer questions they answered incorrectly but do not make this the focus.
  •        Tutors. Teachers have great influence on a student’s attitude toward learning but there are benefits of having a one-on-one or small group tutor that many public schools cannot give in a classroom. Supplementing your student’s math education with a private tutor will give them the time and attention they need to build math confidence.
  •         Have your student write or express their anxieties about math before doing their work. Do not belittle their anxieties but allow them to see that they are unfounded and easily overcome with practice and positive reinforcement
  •        Make Math FUN. There are many ways to have math be an entertaining and engaging part of your child’s day. Allowing your student to see how fun math can be will start to change their views and dispel their anxieties

Sourced through: https://www.oxfordlearning.com/what-is-math-anxiety/

Further discussions:

Math Anxiety in College

How to Overcome Math Anxiety

Math Anxiety

Topics: Best Practice, Positive Reinforcement, Test Anxiety, Math Anxiety, Child Failure

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